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Regulating Working-Time Transitions in Europe

Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly

This book provides an overview of the institutional arrangements affecting labour market transitions through different working-time arrangements in seven European countries. It examines the extent to which social integration through transitional labour markets is possible, assesses the effects of labour market transitions, and prescribes improvements, with the aim of preventing the development of social exclusion from paid employment.
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Chapter 6: Flexibility in the Spanish labour market: working time and temporary employment

Inmaculada Cebrián, María Ángeles Davia and Virginia Hernanz


Inmaculada Cebrián, María Ángeles Davia, Virginia Hernanz and Gloria Moreno It is widely agreed, as Fagan and Lallement (2000) note, that the persistence of high unemployment levels in Europe has encouraged the widespread adoption of work-sharing policies. The main tools used have been working-time reductions, part-time work, replacement practices and the relaxation of restrictions on temporary contracts. This chapter examines the role played by these tools in the flexibilization of the Spanish labour market. European countries can be divided into at least three different groups, depending on the main work-sharing strategy adopted. Anxo and O’Reilly (2000) group countries on the basis of their mode of regulating flexible working-time practices. Thus flexibility in Sweden and the Netherlands is characterized as ‘negotiated’ and in France and Spain as ‘statist’, while the mode of regulation in Ireland and the UK is described as ‘externally constrained voluntarism’. However, these typologies would change somewhat if the criterion adopted was the main tools used by different countries to promote working-time flexibility. One group would include those countries that have sought to reduce the maximum working time, for instance, by setting a maximum weekly working time, as has happened in France, where the so-called ‘Aubry laws’ introduced the 35-hour week. A second group would consist of those countries that have opted to reduce individual working time, for example by encouraging part-time work, as in the Netherlands (Gorter, 2000). A third group would include those countries that have used temporary work as the main...

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